Transit agency buys 1 acre for bullet train in San Jose for $24M

Site was approved for 20-story apartment tower near Diridon Station

VTA buys acre needed for bullet train in San Jose for $24M
Santa Clara Valley Transportation's Carolyn Gonot; 32 and 60 Stockton Avenue (Aedis Architects, Getty, Santa Clara Valley Transportation)

A Silicon Valley transit agency has bought the site of an approved apartment tower in San Jose that could have blocked a high-speed rail line into Diridon Station.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bought two parcels that make up the 1.12-acre property at 32 and 60 Stockton Avenue for $23.8 million — or 58 percent more than they traded for last year and in 2021, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.

The seller was the Thang Do and Chunhong Liu Revocable Trust, the estate of the late architect Thang Do.

The deal puts an end to plans by Do and San Jose-based Urban Catalyst to build what they dubbed Apollo — a 20-story, 471-unit apartment tower with 7,600 square feet of shops and restaurants that would replace an auto body shop and car wash at a cost of $100 million.

The sale between the trust and the VTA was negotiated by Urban Catalyst.

“We weren’t planning on facilitating this sale; we planned on building Apollo,” Urban Catalyst CEO Erik Hayden said in a statement. “Yet after being approached by the city and other partner agencies about potentially selling the property to them, Urban Catalyst worked with various local government and transit agencies to find a good solution.”

Do bought the two parcels on the other side of the Caltrain tracks from SAP Center in August 2021 and April of last year for a combined $15.1 million.

Their recent sale was blessed by the San Jose City Council in October, which approved an initial purchase on behalf of the VTA. Kevin Ice, the city’s real estate manager, said at the time the purchase was needed to complete the high-speed rail and Diridon Station projects.

“If the (apartment) tower would be built, the cost to complete the Diridon vision would increase exponentially,” Ice told the Business Journal.

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The California High-Speed Rail Authority designated the Apollo site among the right-of-way parcels it needs for the first phase of the state’s “bullet train” project. 

The phase would link Silicon Valley with the Central Valley, running through Santa Clara, San Jose’s Diridon Station — a five-minute walk from the Apollo site — Gilroy, Merced and Fresno.

The authority seeks to put a 61-space parking lot for Amtrak and Capitol Corridor rail service riders on the site, which would also be used to widen the railroad tracks.

Diridon Station, where Amtrak, BART, Caltrain, high-speed rail and other forms of transit are slated to meet, is set to become the West Coast’s Grand Central

The city’s Diridon Station Area Plan calls for the construction of 12,900 homes, 13.7 million square feet of offices and 1 million square feet of shops and restaurants. 

That includes Google’s Downtown West — now on hold — which would house up to 25,000 Google workers in 4,000 homes, 7.3 million square feet of offices, 500,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a community center and 15 acres of parks located 15 miles east of Google’s headquarters. 

— Dana Bartholomew

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